Pereat dies (Let the day perish)

Roberto Gigliucci

This essay focuses on the theme or topos of ‘radical curses’ deriving from the biblical stories of Jeremiah and Job (pereat dies in qua natus sum, or let the day perish wherein I was born). Departing from the famous sonnet attributed to Camões (and examining the problem of attribution, keeping in mind the sizeable and recent critical bibliography), Gigliucci discusses the locus communis that he unwinds through a lyric tradition running from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, offering a large quantity of examples and passages and revealing the peculiar characteristic that the topos of absolute self-destruction adopts in various contexts, especially in the poems that began the so-called ‘desperate’ genre (from the 14th to the 15th century). The author also underlines the intertwining between the pure existential inclination of the curse and its close tie with love poetry. The essay concludes noting the inauspicious influence of Saturn evoked by some poets, in this way interweaving the theme of the radical curse with the topic of western melancholy.